”From references to a local drug dealer through to a ‘Happy Birthday’ sing-along for a member of the audience, the band epitomised the sense of joy events such as this can induce”
With the aim of hosting a variety of musicians, ranging from bands to solo artists, Songbook Sessions is an admirable attempt on behalf of The Zanzibar Club to present to its audience an evening which covers both a range of artists as well as giving said musicians the opportunity of playing to a mixed crowd. The evening was slightly mired by the fact that a few acts had to pull out last minute, though the scope and intention was certainly not lost amid the entertainment on show.
Photo taken by author
The night was dominated by solo acts, which, I am assured, is not the normal run of things. However, it did little to detract from the evening as the acts on show displayed a great deal of variety. Esme Bridie provided a short set of endearing and tender acoustic tracks, boasting a voice which was both calm and measured yet confident in its delivery. Comparisons will certainly be drawn to artists in the vein of Lucy Rose, though Esme did enough to ensure she brought elements of her own character to the table. Uni of Liverpool student Mad King Ludwig, otherwise known as Henry Mawhood, also approached the stage armed with only one instrument, this time it being a keyboard, though the impression he left could not have been more different. With vocal style which is best compared with that of Tom Waits, Mad King Ludwig certainly proved to be an acquired taste, but one rich with reward if it ticks your box. Bexi Blue’s smoky vocal delivery was not quite as striking, though her soulful and funky aesthetic was a nice mixer towards the end of the night. The bizarre performances of Piotr Misztal’s hushed ballads, Michael Sutton’s inability to tune a guitar and Ben Nicholson’s painful vocal performance, despite his proficient guitar playing, exercised the lower end of the list, though the mixed solo offerings was largely a joy.
Flying the flag for the more multitudinous outfits, local favourites The Rainbirds provided a tight performance. Expressing both experienced musicianship and refined songwriting, their narrative style was complimented by their intricate acoustic set-up. From references to a local drug dealer through to a ‘Happy Birthday’ sing-along for a member of the audience, the band epitomised the sense of joy events such as this can induce. Our last act of the evening, namely David Knowles, ensured the night ended on a reflective and measured note. Despite technically being a solo act, Knowles’ accompaniment of cello and box alongside his own guitar created a sound both haunting and immersive. Including a rousing rendition of the Jimi Hendrix classic ‘Hey Joe’, Knowles held firm for the band side of proceedings, and ensured the evening ended on a high.
It’s always a slight gamble when attending events which showcase as many acts as Songbook Sessions did. However, it’s a gamble which is important, as the variety and accessibility of the artists means that nights such as this are integral to discovering new and local acts. The array of performances on offer on this occasion express such a sentiment, and as such, results in The Zanzibar Club once again putting on an evening which resulted in success.